As City of Villains was an expansion to City of Heroes as well as its own standalone title, it introduced several changes that are unique to the game. One of the primary changes to the game was the ability to play as a supervillain, with new Archetypes (classes) and powers unique to Villains.
Other changes to the game include:
- An instant-access mission system, the Newspaper. Players look through the newspaper for noteworthy articles, such as a valuable item being kept in a museum, then act upon them.
- Player vs Player areas for Hero vs. Villain conflict. This addition was an expansion on CoH's Arena areas, which allowed for Hero vs. Hero battles. Villain vs. Villain is also available in the game.
- Sharper and more detailed graphics, ragdoll physics, and other visual improvements.
- Ability to create/access Super Group bases.
These features have been implemented into CoV Infamy. Initially, the use of Super Group bases in City of Heroes required an account with City of Villainsaccess. Later, NCSoft gave subscribers to either game access to both games, allowing all players to use Super Group bases. Any account or game code which gave access to only one game now grants access to both games. The instant-access mission system has been ported to City of Heroes as the Police Band radio, where heroes listen for crimes in progress and act to prevent them.
The player's initial tutorial is "Breakout" (the name of which is the inverse of City of Heroes tutorial, "Outbreak") where their character must escape from prison (specifically Zigursky Penitentiary, "The Zig," located in Brickstown) to go to the Rogue Isles, where the majority of the game takes place. After this point, the player gains missions both from the new Newspaper system and from more traditional contacts.